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Honoring Black History Month with Irvine grantee partners

Black History Month is a chance to recognize the leadership and contributions, across generations, of Black changemakers while also acknowledging that deeply rooted racism and classism continue to disproportionately impact Black communities. For decades, Black changemakers have advocated for racial, economic, and gender equity for all and these efforts have shaped today’s movements and leaders.  

In honor of Black History Month, we highlighted some of the Black-led and Black-serving organizations that Irvine and our regranting partners are proud to support: California Black Power Network, Center on Policy Initiatives, Coleman Advocates, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, California EDGE Coalition, National Black Worker Center, and Oakstop. We asked each of them the same question: “What is one thing that you’d like others to know about your organization?” 

From advocating for policy and narrative change to challenging discriminatory practices in the workplace, producing research, and empowering new and established community leaders, these organizations are dedicated to helping ensure that California is a place where Black workers, their families, and everyone in our communities, can thrive. It’s a privilege to partner with them on this journey. 

As we reflect on Black History Month, we hope that the insights below serve as lessons and inspiration to reimagine what California can be and to work together towards a more just and equitable society.

"EDGE advances economic justice! We are 100% staffed by women of color with lived experience related to our goal of advancing economic mobility for all Californians, especially those that have historically been left out of our state’s prosperity. California is positioned to be the fourth largest economy in the world, yet we have all this talent working below a living wage. It just doesn’t make sense! "Representation matters and we need more individuals leading advocacy efforts that have a personal understanding of the impacts of our work to ensure we center the correct issues and voice."
Photo credit: California EDGE Coalition
Photo credit: California Black Power Network
"CBPN is the culmination of seven years of collective work through the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub and the African American Civic Engagement Project. Our mission is to change the lived conditions of Black Californians by dismantling systemic and anti-Black racism. CBPN builds Black people power through (a) robust policy change to eliminate systemic barriers for Black people, (b) civic engagement to increase voter and community participation in Black communities, (c) cultural and narrative change to shift consciousness on conditions that disproportionately impact Black community residents; and (d) direct action to bring attention to Black community needs and concerns."
"At CPI, we are a think tank and action organization that fights for worker justice in San Diego County and beyond. We collaborate with and serve anyone who has been exploited for their labor and excluded from the institutions of power. This includes workers who are paid the lowest wages and face the worst working conditions, which are usually women and people of color and especially Black people. We produce research, organize coalitions, support new and established community leaders, and develop simple ways to talk about complex issues, because we don't get to freedom without lots of well-informed, organized people, speaking with a cohesive voice, and moving collectively."
Photo credit: Center on Policy Initiatives
Photo credit: Coleman Advocates
"Those most impacted by injustice must be leaders in determining and implementing the solutions. Both Coleman Advocates and the California Black Leadership Project fight to make this a reality by creating leadership pipelines and committing to ongoing leadership development to hear, learn from, and understand those impacted by the issues we fight for. Coleman also does this by prioritizing Black and Latinx intergenerational organizing, including children, youth, college students, and families."
"COPE is a faith-based, multi-generational, and unapologetically Black-led space that has led transformative work in the Inland Empire for more than 20 years. We are proud to be rooted in faith, hope, and guided by a core belief that people closest to the problem are capable of developing solutions for a more just and equitable society. COPE is a place of new opportunities, and second chances, where people, regardless of their background, are supported to grow as community leaders. COPE is reimagining what it means to “revitalize community” through the lens of love, acceptance, care, redemption, and restoration."
Photo credit: COPE
Photo credit: National Black Worker Center
"It is unfortunate but true that ethnic and racial origin, has perhaps the greatest impact on jobs, compensation, and a worker’s options for redress when mistreated by an employer. Black workers face a racialized political economy in which they are exploited because of their race and their class. "The National Black Worker Center’s network is Black history in the making. We are building an organizing Hub that will mobilize the power of working Black people to challenge discriminatory employment practices in Northern California. A regional organizing network is necessary to overcome displacement and gentrification and establish regional Black community power and accountability with policymakers and employers in NCAL. "Together, we WILL dismantle the systems that exploit and oppress us to create a more equitable workforce."
"Oakstop is a platform to catalyze economic mobility for the Black community — Oakstop’s placemaking platform features five commercial buildings within a five-block radius in downtown Oakland, totaling 80,000 square feet and forming an interconnected “campus” of spaces to work, gather, and grow. The primary focus of Oakstop’s impact strategy is on anchoring communities of color to mitigate displacement. Oakstop’s founder, Trevor Parham, has experienced a 60% decline of Oakland’s Black population in his lifetime, and has spent the last 9+ years growing the enterprise and driving its impact strategy to respond to these deleterious effects on his community."
Photo credit: Oakstop